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Sitana marudhamneydhal DEEPAK, KHANDEKAR, VARMA & CHAITANYA, 2016

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Draconinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Attenborough’s fan-throated lizard 
SynonymSitana marudhamneydhal DEEPAK, KHANDEKAR, VARMA & CHAITANYA 2016
Sitana attenboroughii SADASIVAN, RAMESH, PALOT, AMBEKAR & MIRZA 2018 
DistributionIndia (Tamil Nadu, Kerala)

Type locality: Kallidaikurichi, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India (8°39’54” N; 77°27’15” E), 68 m elevation

attenboroughii: India (Kerala); Type locality: Trivandrum, Kerala, India (8.313387°, 77.070933°, elevation 9 m  
Reproductionoviparous. Breeding males were observed during the month of September and October. Hatchlings were recorded during the month of January. 
TypesHolotype: NCBS AQ460, an adult male (Fig. 6 in Deepak et al. 2016), collected on 12 November 2014 by V. Deepak and R. Chaitanya. Paratypes CES 141124, an adult male from Kallidaikurichi, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, India (8°39’54” N; 77°27’15” E), 68 m elevation, collected on 12 November 2014 by V. Deepak and R. Chaitanya. BNHS 2313 an adult female from Kanyakumari, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, India (8°4’45” N 77°31’55” E), 68 m elevation, collected on 10 January 2014 by V. Deepak
Holotype: BNHS 2481, adult male, collected by Muhamed Jafer Palot, 15.06.16. Paratypes (n=2).—Adult male, BNHS 2482 collected by Muhamed Jafer Palot, Kalesh Sadasivan and Ramesh M. B, on 15.06.16.; adult female, BNHS 2483, from the same locality and collectors 15.06.16 [attenboroughii] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A large-sized Sitana with a maximum SVL of 55 mm, distinguished from all congeners by the following combination of characters: 1) dewlap extending beyond forearm insertion (vs not extending in S. sivalensis complex including S. kalesari); 2) highly serrated dewlap (vs faintly serrated in S. spinaecephalus and S. laticeps); 3) large dewlap extending over up to 64% of trunk vs S. ponticeriana (46%), S. bahiri (29%), S. devakai (33%) and S. visiri (56%), 4. Large body size (average SVL) 51 mm vs S. bahiri (Rameshwaram population 42.1 mm; Sri Lankan population 34 mm), S. devakai 35 mm, S. visiri 50 mm and S. ponticeriana 40.5 mm, 5. Fewer dorsal scales (39–40) vs S. visiri (41–50) (Deepak et al. 2016).

Diagnosis (attenboroughii). A moderately large sized species in relation to other members of the genus, SVL 55.6 mm. Dewlap colouration in breeding male iridescent blue and bright orange. Enlarged scales on dewlap moderately serrated. Dewlap moderately large, extending up to 36% of the trunk. More than 72–74 ventral scales and 35–38 vertebral scales. Sitana attenboroughii sp. nov. differs from members of the genus Sarada by having an enlarged spine-like scale on the thigh and maximum SVL of 55.7 mm (vs. SVL >60 mm and an enlarged spine-like scale absent on the thigh in Sarada deccanensis, Sarada darwini and Sarada superba); differs from members of the genus Sitana in the dewlap coloration being vibrant orange and blue (vs. dewlap coloration yellowish white and may bear a faint blue line in S. sivalensis complex, S. laticeps and S. spinaecephalus); dewlap extending to over 36% of the trunk length (vs. 56% in S. visiri, 33% in S. devakai, 29% in S. bahiri, 46% in S. ponticeriana, 64% in S. marudhamneydhal); SVL 45.7–55.8 (vs. SVL 42–54 in S. marudhamneydhal, 36.36–44.5 in S. ponticeriana, 41.7– 48.5 in S. laticeps); DWL 25.8–33.3 (vs. 37.3–40.5 in S. marudhamneydhal, 22.4–29.2 in S. ponticeriana, 24.5–39 in S. visiri, 26.1–32.6 in S. spinaecephalus, 20.7–27.1 in S. laticeps); ventral scales 72 or 73 (86–89 S. bahiri, 100– 108 in S. devakai, 75–81 in S. laticeps, 80–84 in S. marudhamneydhal). The new species is most similar to S. visiri in general appearance from which it differs in possessing higher ventral counts 72–74 (vs. 65–69 in S. visiri). Other characters which may be used to distinguish the new species are presented in the key to the genus and an overview of selected characters are presented in Table 2 (from SADASIVAN et al. 2018). 
CommentSynonymy: Balan et al. 2021 synonymized S. attenboroughii with S. marudhamneydhal.

Habitat: coastal sand dunes, grassland habitats, open areas dominated with Prosopis juliflora and plains in the southern Tamil Nadu.

Sympatry: Eutropis carinata, Eutropis bibronii, and Calotes versicolor

NCBI taxonID: 2052819 [attenboroughii] 
EtymologyThe species is named for its occurrence in the grassy plains as well as the seashore in Tamil Nadu, India. The specific epithet is derived from a combination of two ancient Tamil words (Tamil: Marudham = cultivable grasslands, Neydhal = land by the seashore).

S. attenboroughii was named after the celebrated naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Frederick Attenborough for his contribution towards natural history documentation and wildlife conservation. 
  • BALAN, A.; D. JUDE, SURYA NARAYANAN, SANDEEP VARMA, V. DEEPAK 2021. Morphological and genetic variation in populations of Sitana marudhamneydhal and the validity of Sitana attenboroughii. Zootaxa 4964 (3): 523–540 - get paper here
  • Deepak, V., Karanth, P. 2017. Aridification driven diversification of fan-throated lizards from the Indian subcontinent. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution - get paper here
  • DEEPAK, V.; AKSHAY KHANDEKAR, SANDEEP VARMA, R. CHAITANYA 2016. Description of a new species of Sitana Cuvier, 1829 from southern India. Zootaxa 4139 (2): 167–182 - get paper here
  • SADASIVAN, KALESH; M. B. RAMESH, MUHAMED JAFER PALOT, MAYURESH AMBEKAR, ZEESHAN A. MIRZA 2018. A new species of fan-throated lizard of the genus Sitana Cuvier, 1829 from coastal Kerala, southern India. Zootaxa 4374 (4): 545-564 - get paper here
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